Teens: Having a Mental Illness Isn’t Your Fault


Adolescence is a time for exploration, discovery, and fun. It can be a wonderful stage of life. Yet, if you have been diagnosed with a mental illness you might worry about how to tell your friends or even whether you’re going to tell them at all. You might wonder whether there was something you did or said to bring about this illness.You might feel that it was because of the drugs you experimented with or because of the fight you had with your parents. But this is far from the truth. Some teens diagnosed with a mental illness believe that their life is over. But this is also not true.


First of all, you had nothing to do with developing a mental illness. Psychological illness develops because of many factors including:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Brain chemistry
  • Life experiences such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history


Yet, even if a person has the above factors it doesn’t mean that they will automatically develop a psychological illness. In fact, a mental illness develops because of complicated reasons that researchers are only beginning to understand. What’s important is that experts have been able to identify the factors that can help a teen if/when they develop illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or addiction.


Although developing a mental illness is not your fault, you do have the power to improve your mental health and manage any symptoms you might experience. For instance, you can do the following to help improve your mental health condition:

  • Eat healthy foods
  • Get at least 9 hours of sleep each night
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol
  • Stay connected to friends and family
  • Keep a log of how you’re feeling as well as your mental health symptoms
  • Commit to attending therapy, if you’re seeing a therapist
  • Continue to take any medication you might be taking (or talk to your doctor about making any changes to your medication)
  • Ask as many questions as you need to
  • Connect with communities of other teens who experience your same illness (there are many of these online)
  • Talk to your doctor and/or therapist openly and honestly about how you’re feeling
  • Communicate with your parents about your thoughts and feelings


These are suggestions for staying mentally and emotionally fit, especially if you’ve already been diagnosed with a mental illness. Also, it’s important to remember that having a mental illness doesn’t mean that your life is over. It only means that it’s going to require some attention and tenderness – from you, your parents, friends, and other family members. Teens with depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness can live perfectly normal lives. They can continue to go to school, have happy and fulfilling friendships, enjoy fun experiences, and reach their goals.


Many teens want to keep quiet about the symptoms they experience. They don’t want to be judged by their friends, or worse, they don’t want to be rejected by their friends. They might also feel that their family won’t love or accept them. However, most teens who speak up about what they’re experiencing find that they are glad they did. They’re able to be honest in their family relationships while also getting the help they need.


If you’re experiencing mental health symptoms of any kind, talk to an adult you trust. Having a mental illness isn’t your fault. But, as mentioned above, you do have the power to improve your psychological health.